Hi, everyone! I'm Jessica Fox, former bridal shop owner, wedding venue manager, and event catering sales girl turned freelance writer.
That intro sounded like some kind of 12 step meeting, didn't it? Maybe that's what I need! When I graduated college, I didn't plan on having so many jobs culminating in owning a bridal salon, but somehow, in the crazy way the universe works, that's where my degree in Communications got me. Now that my shop is closed, I find myself doing what I went to school for while trying to share some of what I know through my blog, A Foxy Wedding.
Purchasing a garment is a perfectly commonplace transaction. It is within the framework of a wedding where things get kooky. The inner workings of a bridal boutique are shrouded in mystery, so I thought I would offer a couple insights!
# 1: Knowing is Half the Battle
Homage to G.I. Joe aside, deciding on a budget that is realistic for your expectations is key. To determine this, look through magazines or online to identify styles you are drawn to and the designers that create them. Then call shops in your area that offer those collections and ask the price range. It sounds more awkward than it actually is, I promise. Whoever is on the other end of the line won't know or even remember it's you! Now that you know what the general cost is, you're better equipped to set spending parameters. Though far from fun, believe me, this will go a long way to stem frustration during the search. The quickest way to see a happy customer become sad is the moment she learns her favorite gown is way outside of her ballpark.
On the flip side, not all shops will share the price range of a collection over the phone. For me, that's a big, fat, red flag. Right away, a secretive tone is set, and the customer is put on the defensive. This is a step some salons have taken to stop Internet and comparison shoppers. Many designers have chosen to sell their gowns on discount websites, negatively affecting the sales of privately owned stores that sell their collections.
Customers will visit the salons, try on gowns, learn the name of what they like, and then order it online. Essentially, the store does all of the work but makes no sale. Additionally, in an effort to find the lowest price, customers will call salons all over the country searching for the best deal. In response, tactics like disguising style names or numbers, tearing out labels, outlawing pictures, and implementing policies against price quoting have become commonplace. Right or wrong, this is done to combat losing sales to other shops who don't adhere to price points set by the manufacturer and online discount stores. When you encounter this, reconsider making this store a first stop. With all that cloak and dagger going on, it's sure to cause anxiety, and it does little to make a girl comfortable or confident in her decisions.
No matter what, follow your instinct and try not to allow all the fun and madness of planning a wedding unmoor you. Your dress can be once worn, short, long, vintage, new, your mother's, couture, DIY, custom designed, or whatever you want it to be. All that matters is that you love it and feel your most beautiful in it. At the end of the day, you are joining your life with your partner's - your gown is just the icing on the cake!